al-Sakhawi: Do not follow odd statements about authoritative Imams

A brother recently brought to attention the following quote from Imam Shams ad-Deen as-Sakhawi (d. 902 AH)

ويلتحق بذلك ما وقع بين الأئمة سيما المتخالفين في المناظرات والمباحثات وأما ما أسنده الحافظ أبو الشيخ بن حبان في كتاب السنة له من الكلام في حق بعض الأئمة المقلدين وكذا الحافظ أبو احمد ابن عدي في كأمله والحافظ أبو بكر الخطيب في تأريخ بغداد وآخرون ممن قبلهم كابن أبي شيبة في مصنفه والبخاري والنسائي مما كنت أنزههم عن إيراده مع كونهم مجتهدين ومقاصدهم جميلة فينبغي تجنب اقتفائهم فيه. ولذا عذر بعض القضاة الإعلام من شيوخنا من نسب إليه التحدث ببعضه بل منعنا شيخنا حين سمعنا عليه كتاب ذم الكلام للهروي من الرواية عنه لما فيه من ذلك

 (References to) discussion among religious leaders in debates and research belong into the same category (of subjects which should be passed over in silence). There are some statements regarding the merits of certain authoritative religious leaders (aimma al-muqalladin) in the Kitab as-Sunnah of the hadith expert Abu al-Shaykh ibn Hibban which I wish he had not made. There are similar statements in the Kamil of the hadith expert Abu Ahmad Ibn ‘Adi, the History of Baghdad of the hadith expert Abu Bakr al-Khatib, and in the works of their predecessors, such as Ibn Abi Shaybah’s Musannaf, al-Bukhari and an-Nasai’. Yet, all of them were scholars of independent judgment, and their intentions were good. In this respect, one must not follow in their steps. Therefore, one of our teachers, a distinguished judge, reprimanded (a certain scholar) which was supposed to have discussed such material. When we studied al-Harawi’s Kitab Dhamm al-Kalam with Ibn Hajar, he even forbade us to transmit traditions on its authority, because it contained such material.

as-Sakhawi, Shams ad-Deen, al-I’ilan bi al-Tawbikh li-man Dhamma Ahl al-Tarikh, al-Resalah Publications, Beirut, 1986, pp.110-111; translated in Rosenthal, Franz, A History of Muslim Historiography, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1968 p. 361

It appears al-Sakhawi had none other than Imam Abu Hanifa in mind when he wrote this for indeed he was one of the Authoritative Imams and the works containing the statements as-Sakhawi disliked have odd statements about the Imam. May Allah have mercy on him.

— Ahmad Shamil

Thanwi: Meaning of Ka’ba ‘moving’ in honor of the righteous

The great jurist and spiritual master of the past century Maulana Muhammad Ashraf Ali Thanwi (d. 1943)  has addressed the query about narratives of Ka’ba moving from its place in honor of some righteous persons.

It is said about some saints that when they reached Makkah they found that Ka’ba was not there. Amazed at it, they prayed to Allah to be told of the whereabouts of Ka’ba. Once made to realize they saw that a pious person was coming and Ka’ba had gone to receive him.

This narrative was found fault with by three groups;

    1. Those who have nothing to do with religion. They belied it, laughed at those who narrated it and dubbed them as superstitious.
    2. Those followers of the religion who just view things superficially. Such people rejected it as the hallucinations of the mystics.
    3. The existentialists/empiricists. They said it is against reason and if it had so happened history must have had some record of such happenings and we have not found any such record.

[In order to understand the idea] know that there is the appearance (soorat) of Ka’ba and there is spirit (rooh) of Ka’ba. Its spirit is a special ‘spiritual illumination’ (tajalli) of which the physical structure of Ka’ba is a manifestation. Therefore, for the righteous people who saw that Ka’ba was not at its place means that spiritual illumination of Ka’ba was [to their mystic senses] focusing not on the pilgrims but on those righteous persons.

Anyway, there were pious people towards whom Ka’ba itself turned [i.e. its spiritual illumination was focused towards them] but for the purpose of Hajj they had travel to Ka’ba by themselves.”

 Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Ashraf al-Jawab, (Karachi: Maktaba ‘Umar Farooq, n.d.) 314

Whether or not one opts to enter the realm of such mystical interpretation it has to be accepted that there is nothing particularly objectionable in this  idea. If some gnostic (‘arif) tends to put things this way there is no reason to take exception to it for it neither contradicts any established article of the faith nor subterfuges the shariah precepts and obligations.

Allah knows the best!

— Ahmad Shamil

Ibn Hajr: Criticism on the likes of Abu Hanifa has no significance

Shams ad-Deen as-Sakhawi (d. 902 AH) wrote the biography of his teacher Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (d. 852 AH). In it he records Ibn Hajr’s reply to a question regarding al-Nasai’ and others’ criticism on Abu Hanifah, the Imam.

Ibn Hajr - Abu Hanifa

“And he was asked about what an-Nasai has mentioned in his work, “al–Du’afa wal Matrukin” regarding Abu Hanifah, may Allah be pleased with him, that he was not strong in hadith and made many mistakes and errors along with being scarce in narration, whether it is true. And whether any of the great scholars of hadith has agreed with this or not?

He replied: an-Nasai was one of the leaders in hadith sciences, whatever he said was based on his knowledge and ijtihad. (But) there is no one all of whose opinions are to be accepted. Some of the hadith scholars have agreed with the gist of an-Nasai’ opinion on this issue and al-Khatib al-Baghdadi has gathered their sayings in Tarikh al-Baghdad, of which some are acceptable and some that are rejected.

(As to the less number of his reports) it has been answered that it was because of his opinion that only such a  hadith can be narrated which has been (perfectly) memorized from the time of its hearing till narration. For this reason (i.e. the strict condition) reports from him appear less in number otherwise he narrated many hadith reports.

In short: It is better not to get into this kind of discussions because the Imam and the likes of him have crossed the bridge (i.e. they are above any criticism[1]) therefore no one’s (critical) opinion will be effective regarding them, rather they are on a degree to which Allah -the Exalted- has raised them in that they are followed and imitated. So trust this submission. And Allah is the Owner of the Success.”

as-Sakhawi, Shams ad-Deen, al-Jawahir wa al-Dorar fi Tarjama Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajr, Dar Ibn Hazm, Beirut, 1999 vol.2 pp.946-947

[1] The expression used is “crossed the bridge” which means whatever people might have said about them is not to be given any consideration. (See al-Sakhawi’s Fath al-Mughees, Maktaba al-Sunnah Egypt ed. vol.2 p.21) 

— Yahya Ja’far

Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi: No need to discuss the reliability of Imams like Abu Hanifa

وجملته أن الراوي لا يخلو إما أن يكون معلوم العدالة أو معلوم الفسق أو مجهول الحال، فإن كانت عدالته معلومة كالصحابة رضي الله عنهم أو أفاضل التابعين كالحسن وعطاء والشعبي والنخعي وأجلاء الأئمة كمالك وسفيان وأبي حنيفة والشافعي وأحمد وإسحاق ومن يجري مجراهم وجب قبول خبره ولم يجب البحث عن عدالته

“To summarize; a narrator is either known for his reliability or for his being unsound or else he will be unknown. If his reliability is known as is the case of the Companions, or greatest of the Successors (tabi’un) like Hasan (al-Basri), ‘Ata, al-Sha’bi, al-Nakha’i, and most exalted of the Imams like Malik, Sufyan (al-Thawri), Abu Hanifa, al-Shafi’i, Ahmad, Ishaq and those like them, it is imperative to accept their reports and discussion about their trustworthiness is not required.”

 (Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi, Al-Lam’ fi Usool al-Fiqh, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, Beirut, 2003 p.77)

Who was Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi?

الشيخ، الإمام، القدوة، المجتهد، شيخ الإسلام، أبو إسحاق إبراهيم بن علي بن يوسف الفيروزآبادي، الشيرازي، الشافعي، نزيل بغداد، قيل: لقبه جمال الدين مولده: في سنة ثلاث وتسعين وثلاث مائة
قال أبو بكر الشاشي: أبو إسحاق حجة الله على أئمة العصر وقال الموفق الحنفي: أبو إسحاق أمير المؤمنين في الفقهاء

“The Shaykh, the Imam, the exemplar, the Mujtahid, Shaykh al-Islam, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Yusuf al-Ferozabadi, al-Shirazi, al-Shafi’i, resident of Baghdad. His surname was Jamal ad-Deen. He was born in 393 A.H. …

Abu Bakr al-Shashi said: ‘Abu Ishaq is Allah’s proof on the leading scholars of the time.’ al-Mofaq al-Hanafi said, ‘Abu Ishaq is the Leader of the Faithful from among the fuqaha.'”

(al-Dhahabi, Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubala, al-Resalah publications, Beirut, 1985 vol.18 pp.452-455)

— Yahya Ja’far

Praying 2 Rak’at Sunnah of Fajr when Jam’at is in Progress

1. Introduction

There is well known khilaf among the jurists (fuqaha) as to praying the two rak’at sunnah salah of fajr while the congregational obligatory salah has started.

Al-Shafi’i said that if the prescribed prayer has commenced he is not to offer the two rak’as inside or outside the mosque. Al-Nawawi writes that Imam Ahmad and the majority (jamhoor) have the same opinion as Al-Shafi’i [1] whereas the Hanafiyya differ.

قال محمد: يكره إذا أقيمت الصلاة، أن يصلي الرجل تطوعا غير ركعتي الفجر خاصة، فإنه لا بأس بأن يصليهما الرجل إن أخذ المؤذن في الإقامة، وكذلك ينبغي، وهو قول أبي حنيفة رحمه الله

Muhammad (bin al-Hasan al-Shaybani) said: “When the iqamah is announced, it is disliked for a man to pray a non-obligatory prayer, the only exception being the two rak’as of Fajr, for there is no harm in a man’s praying them even though the mu’adhdhin has started the iqamah. That is the verdict of Imam Abu Hanifa.”[2]

2. Evidence for the opinion of the majority (jamhoor)

As stated the opinion of the majority if of impermissibility of offering any nafal prayers while the obligatory (fard) salah is in progress. This view is based on the consideration of the general implication of the well-known hadith;

عن أبي هريرة، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: «إذا أقيمت الصلاة فلا صلاة إلا المكتوبة

Abu Huraira reported the Messneger of Allah -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- as saying: “When the prayer commences, there is no prayer but the obligatory one.”[3]

The same is reported from other companions as well including Ibn ‘Umar.[4]

Prima facie, the most categorical evidence for this view is in the additional words for the above mentioned narration of Abu Huraira recorded by al-Baihaqi in his Sunan al-Kubra i.e.

قيل: يا رسول الله، ولا ركعتي الفجر؟ قال: ولا ركعتي الفجر

“It was said: O Messenger of Allah, ‘Not even the two rak’as of fajr?’ He said, ‘Not even the two rak’as of fajr.’”[5]

There is, however, a question mark on the authenticity of this addendum.  Although Hafiz Ibn Hajr has graded it as Hasan, Al-Baihaqi himself mentioned that two of its narrators, namely: Nasr bin Hajib and his son Yahya, are not reliable.

Al-Shawkani highlights that another narrator Muslim bin Khalid al-Zanji is also controversial (mutakallam fihi).[6]

Another evidence for their opinion is in the following hadith;

عن مالك ابن بحينة: أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رأى رجلا وقد أقيمت الصلاة يصلي ركعتين، فلما انصرف رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لاث به الناس، وقال له رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «الصبح أربعا، الصبح أربعا

Narrated Malik Ibn Buhaina: Allah’s Messnger passed by or saw a man praying two Rakat after the Iqama (had been pronounced). When Allah’s Messenger completed the salat (prayer), the people gathered around him (the Prophet) or that man and Allah’s Messenger said to him (protesting), ‘Are there four Rak‘as in Fajr prayer? Are there four Rak‘as in Fajr prayer?”[7]

Al-Nawawi mentions that in this Hadith is an explicit forbiddance for starting the supererogatory (nafal) salah after the obligatory prayer has begun.[8]

The report is narrated from other companions as well. According to another report the person whom the Prophet saw was Ibn ‘Abbas.[9]

3. Proofs for the stance of the Hanafiyya

While the Hanafi scholars agree that generally the rule is that no nafal salah is valid if started after the beginning of the jama’h, they hold that two rak’a sunnah of fajr is an exception due to great importance. Al-‘Ayni refers[10] to the following narrations in making this argument;

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها، قالت: لم يكن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم على شيء من النوافل أشد منه تعاهدا على ركعتي الفجر

Narrated ‘Aishah: “The Prophet was never more regular and strict in offering any Nawafil than the two Rak’a (Sunnah) of the Salatu-ul-Fajr prayer.”[11]

عن أبي هريرة، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا تدعوهما، وإن طردتكم الخيل

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: “Do not omit them (the two rak’as before the dawn prayer) even if you are driven away by the horses.”[12]

Moreover, the Hanafiyyah seek evidence with the practice of some of the companions. Consider the following reports recorded by al-Tahawi and others.

عن نافع، يقول: أيقظت ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما لصلاة الفجر , وقد أقيمت الصلاة , فقام فصلى الركعتين

Narrated Nafi’: “I awakened Ibn ‘Umar for Fajr Salah, while the (jama’h of) salah had started, he got up and performed two rak’a of salah.”[13]

عن أبي إسحاق، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن أبي موسى، عن أبيه، حين دعاهم سعيد بن العاص، دعا أبا موسى , وحذيفة , وعبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنهم , قبل أن يصلي الغداة , ثم خرجوا من عنده وقد أقيمت الصلاة , فجلس عبد الله إلى أسطوانة من المسجد , فصلى الركعتين , ثم دخل في الصلاة “

Abu Ishaq says, “‘Abdullah bin Abu Musa related to me from his father regarding the time Sa’id bin al-‘As called them. He had called Abu Musa, Huzayfa, and ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud before the Fajr salah. When they departed from him, the congregation had already begun, so ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud positioned himself behind a pillar in the masjid and performed two rak’as sunnah first, then joined the congregation.”[14]

After quoting this, al-Tahawi writes;

فهذا عبد الله قد فعل هذا ومعه حذيفة وأبو موسى لا ينكران ذلك عليه , فدل ذلك على موافقتهما إياه

“And it was ‘Abdullah who did this and with him were Huzayfa and Abu Musa. They did not criticize him for this. It is evidence that they both agreed with him on this issue.”

عن أبي مجلز، قال: دخلت المسجد في صلاة الغداة مع ابن عمر وابن عباس رضي الله عنهم , والإمام يصلي. فأما ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما فدخل في الصف , وأما ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما , فصلى ركعتين , ثم دخل مع الإمام , فلما سلم الإمام قعد ابن عمر مكانه , حتى طلعت الشمس , فقام فركع ركعتين “

Abu al-Mijliz said: “I entered the mosque at the time of Fajr Salah with ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar and ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, and the Imam was in prayer so Ibn ‘Umar joined the Salah while Ibn Abbas offered two rak’as then he entered the salah with Imam. When the Imam ended the Salah Ibn ‘Umar sat at his place until the sun rose then he stood up and offered two rak’as (sunnah).”[15]

عن أبي الدرداء أنه كان يدخل المسجد والناس صفوف في صلاة الفجر , فيصلي الركعتين في ناحية المسجد , ثم يدخل مع القوم في الصلاة

Abu Darda stated: “I entered the Masjid when the people had stood row by row in Fajr salah. He performed two rak’as of salah at one side of the mosque, and then joined the congregation in salah.”[16]

عن وبرة ، قال : رأيت ابن عمر يفعله ، وحدثني من رآه فعله مرتين ؛ جاء مرة وهم في الصلاة ، فصلاهما في جانب المسجد ، ثم دخل مرة أخرى فصلى معهم ، ولم يصلهما

Wabrah narrated: “I saw Ibn ‘Umar doing it [i.e. praying the two rak’a of fajr while the jam’ah was in progress]. And one who saw him twice narrated to me. Once he came and the people were praying, so he offered two rak’as in a corner of the mosque [before joining the jam’ah]. And at another time he joined the people in the prayers and did not pray two rak’as.”[17]

4. Analysis of the Proofs

The strength of the evidence of the majority (jamhoor) is evident as their case rests on direct narrations traced back to the Holy Prophet himself, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. As quoted by Ibn Hajr, Hafiz Ibn Abdul Barr argued that best in the case of this difference is to stick to the sunnah of the Prophet and leave the nawafil at the time of the fard salah and to offer them afterwards.[18]

However, the evidence to the contrary is not such that can be rejected or overlooked. This is especially true for the fact that Ibn ‘Umar who also narrated the Hadith “When the prayer commences, there is no prayer but the obligatory one” is, as shown above, reported to have offered the two rak’a of fajr while the jam’ah was in progress.

Likewise Ibn ‘Abbas was the one whom the Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- questioned about offering the two rak’a at the time of iqama for fajr and yet he also did the same as mentioned above.

Commenting to the narration of Malik bin Buhaina, al-Qurtubi writes;

وهذا إنكار منه صلى الله عليه وسلم على الرجل لصلاته ركعتي الفجر في المسجد والإمام يصلي، ويمكن أن يستدل به أيضا على أن ركعتي الفجر إن وقعت في تلك الحال صحت، لأنه عليه السلام لم يقطع عليه صلاته مع تمكنه من ذلك، والله أعلم

“This points to Holy Prophet’s dislike for the person who stands up for two rak’as of fajr while the imam is leading the prayers. And it may also be inferred that if the two rak’as of fajr are offered this way they are valid because the Holy Prophet did not make him break the salah even though he could. And Allah knows the best!”[19]

Moreover, earlier we saw the narrations mentioning the practice of four companions (Ibn Mas’ud, Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Darda’) who were among the acutest juristic minds in the generation of the companions.

Along with the great emphasis on these two rak’as the general instruction is not to offer them except after the sunrise. One hadith says;

عن أبي هريرة، قال: ” نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن صلاتين: بعد الفجر حتى تطلع الشمس، وبعد العصر حتى تغرب الشمس

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger forbade the offering of two Salat (prayers)
1) After the Fajr (early morning) prayer till the sunrises. 2) After the ‘Asr prayer till the sun sets.
[20]

In another hadith it is stated that one who misses the two rak’as can make them after the sunset;

عن أبي هريرة، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «من لم يصل ركعتي الفجر فليصلهما بعد ما تطلع الشمس»

Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger said: “He who has not offered the two rak’as of fajr may offer them after sunrise.”[21]

This makes redeeming them very difficult especially if one has to set on a journey or has some other commitment right after fajr.

5. Conclusion

These factors indicate the general ruling is not without some, albeit, conditional exceptions. The safest and most sound opinion appears to be that while generally it is not recommended to pray while the jam’ah is in progress in case of some urgency one may do it in view of the importance of these two rak’as. Al-Tahawi reconciled all the reports saying the same.[22]

Allah knows the best!

References


[1] Sharh Sahih Muslim, vol.5 pp.222-223
[2] Al-Shaybani, Muhammad bin al-Hasan, Muwatta, Vol.1 p.56
[3] Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 1532
[4] Al-Tahawi, Sharh Mushkil al-Athar, vol. 10 p.318 Hadith 4132. Shu’aib al-Arna’ut said, “Its narrators are those of al-Sahih except ‘Abdullah bin Marwan and Al-Dhahabi mentioned in Al-Mizan [Al-A’itidal] that Suleman bin ‘Abdul Rahman al-Damishqi graded him as trustworthy (wathaqa) …”
[5] Sunan al-Kubra, Hadith 4225
[6] Nayl al-Awtar, vol.3 p.102
[7] Sahih Bukhari, Book 10, Chapter 38, Hadith 663
[8] Sharh Sahih Muslim, vol.5 p.222
[9] Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 3329. Classified as Hasan by Shu’aib al-Arna’ut.
[10] ‘Umdatul Qari, vol.5 pp.184-185
[11] Sahih Bukhari, Book 19, Chapter 27, Hadith 1169
[12] Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 4, Hadith 1253. Al-Nimawi classified it as sahih (See, Athar al-Sunan, Hadith 708)
[13] Sharh M’ani al-Athar, Hadith 2203. Classified as sahih by al-Nimawi (see, Athar al-Sunan, Hadith 719)
[14] Sharh M’ani al-Athar, Hadith 2198. Taqi Usmani graded its isnad as sahih, (see, Darse Tirmidhi, vol.2 pp.187-188)
[15] Sharh M’ani al-Athar, Hadith 2200. Classified as sahih by al-Nimawi (see, Athar al-Sunan, Hadith 726)
[16] Sharh M’ani al-Athar, Hadith 2205. Classified as hasan by al-Nimawi (see, Athar al-Sunan, Hadith 722)
[17] Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, Hadith 6418. One of its narrators is Dalham bin Salih. Abu Dawud said, “There is no problem with him.” Yahya bin Ma’in said, “[He is] da’if.” (see, Tahdhib al-Kamal, vol.8 pp.494-495)
[18] Fath al-Bari, vol.2 pp.150-151
[19] Al-Jami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, vol.1 p.168
[20] Sahih Bukhari, Book 9, Chapter 31, Hadith 588
[21] Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, Book 2, Chapter, 197, Hadith 423 Classified as sahih by al-Nimawi (see, Athar al-Sunan, Hadith 739)
[22] Mushkil al-Athar, vol.10 pp.322-323

Ahmad Shakir: Criticism on Qadi Abu Yusuf is unjust

Renowned hadith scholar Shaykh Ahmad Shakir in annotations to a Hadith in his research on Musnad Ahmad defends the great jurist and the most prominent of the students of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf al-Qadi, against criticism by some hadith scholars.

أبو يوسف القاضي : ثقة صدوق تكلموا فيه بغير حق ترجمه البخاري في ” الكبير ” 4 / 397 : 2 ، وقال : تركوه وقال في ” الضعفاء ” ص 38 : تركه يحيى وابن مهدي وغيرهما وترجمه الذهبي في ” الميزان ” 447 : 4 ، والحافظ في ” لسان الميزان ” 300 : 6 ، والخطيب في ” تاريخ بغداد ” ترجمة حافلة (14:242.262) ، وأعدل ما قيل فيه قول أحمد بن كامل عند الخطيب : ولم يختلف يحيى بن معين وأحمد بن حنبل وعلي بن المديني في ثقته في النقل

Abu Yusuf al-Qadi: Trustworthy, reliable. People have criticized him unjustly. Al-Bukhari mentions him in Tarikh al-Kabir 4/397 and said, “They have rejected him.” And in al-Du’afa p.38 he said, “He was rejected by Yahya and Ibn Mahdi and others.” Adh-Dhahabi makes a mention of him in al-Mizan 4/447 and al-Hafiz in Lisan al-Mizan 6/300. Al-Khatib gives his detailed account in Tarikh Baghdad 14/242-262. The most just saying about him is the statement of Ahmad bin Kamil given by al-Khatib, “Yahya bin Ma’in, Ahmad bin Hanbal and ‘Ali bin al-Madini did not differ in grading him as trustworthy in reporting.”

See, Ahmad Shakir (ed.), Musnad Ahmad, (Cairo: Dar al-Hadith, 1995) vol.6 p.268

—  Yahya Ja’far

Is there any such thing as a Fifth Madhhab called Ahl ‘l-Hadith?

This is reproduction of a write-up by Br. Harris Hammam.

What does the term Ahl ‘l-Hadith mean? Here is a list of different connotations of the term used in various Islamic subjects and disciplines:

– Ahl ‘l-Hadith i.e. in Fiqh, as opposed to Ahl ‘l-Ra’y, who were chiefly the Iraqis, and this was pre-development of the Madhhabs

– Ahl ‘l-Hadith i.e. in theology, who are the Ahl ‘l-Sunnah; also known as Ahl ‘l-Athar

– Ahl ‘l-Hadith i.e. in Fiqh – most Hadith-based schools – principally the Maliki, Shafi`i and Hanbali Schools – that rival the Hanafi School, and this was most used post-development of the Madhhabs

– Ahl ‘l-Hadith i.e. biographical – generally the scholars of Hadith

– Ahl ‘l-Hadith i.e. biographical – independent Mujtahids basing their Ijtihad more on their knowledge of Hadith than anything else

– Ahl ‘l-Hadith i.e. in Fiqh, the deniers of Qiyas, usually the Zahiris

– Ahl ‘l-Hadith i.e. in theology, those who are not of the Quranist doctrine; those who are of that doctrine are called Ahl ‘l-Quran

If you look at the above list, it becomes clear that one would have to clarify what is meant when the term Ahl ‘l-Hadith is used. This term is flung around everywhere without most people understanding what it means.

What is important to note is that, in the most part of Islamic history, Ahl ‘l-Hadith has NEVER EVER been used to mean “a Fiqhi Madhhab that rivals the Four Madhhabs.”

Anyone who claims it was a Madhhab like the Hanafi/Maliki/Shafi`i/Hanbali Madhhab is an ignoramus. Claimants of Ahl ‘l-Hadith in Fiqh have totally misunderstood the term.

If these people want to call themselves “Ahl ‘l-Hadith in Fiqh” and upon “the Madhhab of Ahl ‘l-Hadith”, fine – they should just ensure to learn that this meaning is practically an innovation, i.e. it was never used classically to mean what they claim for themselves.

Proving that this meaning has never existed classically is the fact that there is ZERO documentation of anything that would make it a separate Madhhab from the Four Madhhabs, like standard Ahl ‘l-Hadith Fiqhi texts, Ahl ‘l-Hadith Usul, Tabaqat of Ahl ‘l-Hadith scholars, Ahl ‘l-Hadith authorities, Ahl ‘l-Hadith study methodology and Ahl ‘l-Hadith hierarchy – all of which is possessed by the Four Madhhabs.

Ahl ‘l-Hadith Fiqh? My foot. It simply does not exist, classically at least.

Source: IslamAwakening Forums

al-Laknawi on criticism of Imam Abu Hanifa

Here is translation of a section from the introduction of Shaykh Abdul Hayy al-Laknawi’s (d. 1304 AH) Ta’liq al-Mumajjad ‘ala Muwatta Muhammad:

“It is established in the principles [of the science of hadith] that obscure criticism is not acceptable, especially when it is about someone the acceptance of whose testimony is firmly established, the pronouncement of him as someone whose testimony is accepted having been fully explained and whose imamate is established.  I have expanded on this issue in my treatise al-Kalam al-Mabrur wa’s-sa’y al-mashkur ‘ala raghmi anfi man khalafa as-sahih wa’l-jamhur. Some of the criticism came from his contemporaries and it has been established that the criticism of the contemporaries are not accepted about each other, particularly if they derive from party spirit or personal animosity. If that were not the case, then Ibn Ma’in’s criticism of ash-Shafi’i would be acceptable, and Ahmad’s of al-Harith al-Muhasibi, al-Harith’s of Ahmad, Malik’s of Ibn Ishaq the person of the hadith of two qullahs, and of the recitation behind the imam, and things that other people said about others. Certainly not! By Allah we do not accept their words about them and we pay them their portion in full. Some of the criticisms stemmed from later people who were partisan such as ad-Daraqutni, Ibn ‘Adi and others, about whom the evidence is clear that in this criticism they are aberrant. No one is free from partisanship except for those whom the Creator of strength and power protects. It is established that the like of that is not acceptable from whoever says it, and indeed it is itself the cause of critical mark being laid against the person himself. Shaykh al-Islam Badr ad-Din Mahmud al-‘Ayni told the truth when he said in his research on Surat al-Fatihah in al-Binayah sharh al-Hidayah concerning ad-Daraqutni, “How does he manage to attribute weakness to Abu Hanifah? He himself is deserving of being called weak because he narrated in his Musnad hadith which have serious flaws, are defective, rejected, unusual and fabricated.” When he wrote his research on renting land and dwellings in Makkah he said, “As for what Ibn al-Qattan said, The cause of his ascription of weakness to Abu Hanifah was his own bad manners and lack of modesty with respect to him, because Imam ath-Thawri and Ibn al-Mubarak and their likes regarded Abu Hanifah as trustworthy and praised him. So what is the status of someone who ascribes weakness to him in comparison to these great men?” There are some people who are extreme in criticizing narrators, criticizing them without care or consideration, and designation as fabricated hadith which are not fabricated. Included among them is Ibn al-Jawzi, as-Saghani, al-Juzaqani, al-Majd al-Fayruzabadi, Ibn Taymiyyah al-Harrani of Damascus, Abu’l-Hasan ibn al-Qattan and others as I have explained at length in al-Kalam al-mubram and al-Ajwibah al-fadilah. Only someone who is negligent and unaware of their positions runs to accept their statements without verifying them. Some of them, such as Ibn ‘Adi in his Kamil and adh-Dhahabi in his Mizan have the habit in their compilations of mentioning everything that has been said about the man without distinguishing what is acceptable and what is ignored. Beware! and then again beware! of criticizing anyone simply because of their statements, without weighing them against the criticism of others, all of which I have mentioned in as-Sa’y al-mashkur fi radd al-madhhab al-ma’thur. Some criticisms are not established by narrations which are well regarded, such as narrations of al-Khatib in criticism of him, and most of those who come after him rely upon his narrations which are rejected and are themselves subject to serious criticism.

See, The Muwatta of Imam Muhammad, trans. by Mohammad Abdurrahman and Abdassaamad Clarke, (Karachi: Darul Ishat. 2005) Intro. pp.38-39

— Yahya Ja’far

Urdu Review of al-Khatib’s Tarikh al-Baghdad

Today we are sharing “Tabsirah bar Tarikh Khateeb Baghdadi” by Maulana Habibur Rahman Shirwani.

It is a review of Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Tarikh al-Baghdad by Shaykh Habibur Rahman Shirwani in Urdu. Shaykh Shirwani was related to Dar al-Musannifin, Shibli Academy, Lucknow.

He begins with the basic layout of the voluminous work, information about Baghdad and things of the sort.

Most detailed critical review is on the narrations of praise and criticism of Imam Abu Hanifa. He shows how the narrations disparaging Imam Abu Hanifa are of no value and are simply worthy of total rejection. Likewise he writes about the narrations on Qadi Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Shaybani.

The review was much praised by Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi in May 27, 1940 issue of his paper “Sidq.”

We will present English translation of the heart of the review in a future post, in shaa Allah.

— Ahmad Shamil

Reality of Tahreef al-Qur’an allegation on Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri

The Shiites and other people of innovation have been misconstruing a statement of Shaykh Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri and allege that he said there has been textual tampering with the Qur’an. The statement is actually a comment to a hadith from Sahih Bukhari.

TO understand the thing fully it is important to first read the hadith to which he commented. It goes as;

عن عبد الله بن عباس رضي الله عنهما، قال: ” يا معشر المسلمين، كيف تسألون أهل الكتاب، وكتابكم الذي أنزل على نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم أحدث الأخبار بالله، تقرءونه لم يشب، وقد حدثكم الله أن أهل الكتاب بدلوا ما كتب الله وغيروا بأيديهم الكتاب، فقالوا: هو من عند الله ليشتروا به ثمنا قليلا، أفلا ينهاكم ما جاءكم من العلم عن مساءلتهم، ولا والله ما رأينا منهم رجلا قط يسألكم عن الذي أنزل عليكم “

 Ibn Abbas said, “O assembly of Muslims! How do you ask the people of the Scriptures, though your Book (i.e. the Quran) which was revealed to His Prophet is the most recent information from Allah and you recite it, (the Qur’an) that has not been distorted? Allah has informed you that the people of the Scriptures distorted and changed what was revealed to them, with their own hands and they have said (as regards their changed Scriptures): ‘This is from Allah,’ in order to get some worldly benefit thereby.” Ibn Abbas added: “Isn’t the knowledge revealed to you sufficient to prevent you from asking them? By Allah I have never seen any one of them asking (Muslims) about what has been revealed to you.”

See, Sahih Bukhari, Book 48, Hadith 850.  (It is Hadith No. 2685 according to Fath al-Bari numbering system)

Clearly, here is the subject is tampering with the Scriptures of the Jews and the Christians. Commenting on this hadith Shaykh al-Kashmiri said:

واعلم أن في التحريف ثلاثة مذاهب: ذهب جماعة إلى أن التحريف في الكتب السماوية قد وقع بكل نحو في اللفظ والمعنى جميعا، وهو الذي مال إليه ابن حزم؛ وذهب جماعة إلى أن التحريف قليل، ولعل الحافظ ابن تيمية جنح إليه؛ وذهب جماعة إلى إنكار التحريف اللفظي رأسا، فالتحريف عندهم كله معنوي. قلت: يلزم على هذا المذهب أن يكون القرآن أيضا محرفا، فإن التحريف المعنوي غير قليل فيه أيضا، والذي تحقق عندي أن التحريف فيه لفظي أيضا، أما إنه عن عمد منهم، لمغلطة.  فا لله تعالى أعلم به.

“And know that there are three opinions regarding the tampering (with the previous Scriptures): A group (of scholars) said that tampering was done with the earlier revealed scriptures in every way; both in text and meanings. This is what Ibn Hazm (also) said. Another group said that (textual) tampering is minimal and seemingly Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya inclined to this opinion. A group altogether denied (occurrence of) textual tampering. According to them all tampering was by the meaning alone. I say: Going by this opinion entails there is tampering with the Qur’an as well for tampering by the way of meaning is not less in its case either. What is established in my opinion is that there was textual tampering as well. Either they have done it intentionally or it happened by error. And Allah knows the best!”

See, Faid al-Bari ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, Beirut, 2005 vol.4 p.98

Clearly, the entire discussion is about the tampering with the previous scriptures only. The mention of Qur’an is only in the comment to the third opinion. Maulana Kashmiri says that if the previous nations tampered with the scriptures only by the way of meaning and yet we say they are tampered then it would mean Qur’an is also tampered for tampering by the way of meaning is also a fact with regards to Qur’an. By saying so he meant to show the weakness of the third opinion that limits tampering of previous scriptures only to the meanings. Also it goes against the very spirit of the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas to which the comment was made.

Thereafter, he gives his own opinion that the previously revealed scriptures have indeed suffered textual tampering, whether deliberate or otherwise.

It is ironical that such an allegation is made against a scholar who was very cautious with regards to Qur’an. In fact some of his students had the feeling that he intentionally did not make any elaborate comments about the Qur’an for the respect and honor of the Word of Allah.

See, Syed Manazir Ahsan Gilani’s memoirs, “Ihata-e-Darul ‘Uloom me bête Huwe Din“, Idara Talifat Ashrafia, Multan,  1425 AH, pp.93-94

May Allah guide those who for some reasons keep spreading such lies against the scholars of Sunnah.

And Allah knows the best!

— Yahya Ja’far